Just how did a style of jacket that practically hadn’t been seen in three decades come to be one of this year’s must have pieces? You can blame it on the ongoing 1990s trend, but the fleece jacket’s simple, functional and, above all, comfortable design has to have played a part too.
If you’re looking for a casual jacket that feels like a hug when you put it on, which also keeps you warm and works on its own or as a layering piece, the fleece jacket is for you. From its roots as a hiking essential through to its streetwear status today, it’s had one of the biggest glow ups the menswear world has seen for a while, and it’s not likely to go away any time soon.
From our key buying tips through to the best fleece jacket brands, here’s all you need to know.
What Is A Fleece Jacket?
Fleece jackets are largely defined by the fabric they’re made from. Essentially, if it’s made from fleece, it’s a fleece jacket. But what is the fuzzy stuff?
Despite its name, fleece is a synthetic product and has nothing to do with animals, although it does mimic the look of sheep’s wool. It’s generally made from recycled materials and was engineered to be warm but lightweight, working perfectly as a layering piece for hiking and other outdoor activities. It has a soft pile which is incredibly tactile, and instantly gives outfits plenty of texture.
Fleece jackets come in a number of forms, but the most common is the quarter zip (or buttoned) pullover, and the full zip, jacket style. Both are normally made entirely from fleece, but some have contrasting pockets at the chest for an added point of difference.
While typically lightweight, fleece jackets come in varying weights, which changes the garment somewhat. You can get really thin fleece, which is better for layering, or thicker, heavy fibres which transform the fleece jacket into more of a robust piece of outerwear.
It largely depends what you’re looking for, and how much of an impact you want your fleece jacket to have on your look. If you’d like it to be the focal point, and aren’t worried about wearing anything on top of it, you might consider a heavyweight fabric. Want something lighter you can wear as a mid layer? You know what to do.
Design & Colour
Fleece jacket designs are all largely similar. And as mentioned, they tend to be dominated by the fabric itself. But there are a number of variations. You could go full, half or quarter zip; you could go pullover, or buttoned funnel neck. You could go for one with a single check pocket, no pockets at all, or one with plenty.
Fleece jackets are available in solid colours, or multicoloured versions, so it really depends on what exactly you want to go for. They’re perfect for injecting some colour into an otherwise simple look, or for completing a tonal outfit.
The Best Men’s Fleece Jacket Brands
We always find ourselves turning to Forét for the unique twists it puts on classic menswear staples. Its fleece collection is a regular highlight of its range, whether you opt for a simple zip up or a multi-panelled, contrast colour take.
What’s more, its fleece fabric is always 100% recycled, so you can rest assured knowing you’re investing in an eco-friendly addition to your wardrobe.
Uniqlo does simple design best, so walk into one of its many stores and you can expect well-made, future proofed classics. Its fleece jackets are no different, with their versatile, hiking-inspired designs.
Come here for affordable basics. Think solid colour pullovers and zip ups made from lightweight, durable fleece.
Vuori is all about fabric. The California brand has quickly made a name for itself for producing well engineered, practical garments from high, quality technical fabrics that always manage to be comfortable. Think five pocket ‘jeans’ made from a stretchy, crease-proof fabric that’s as comfortable as your favourite pair of sweatpants.
Its fleece is no different, with its incredibly soft handle and dense fibres that will keep you warm regardless of the weather.
Producing clothes inspired by chef’s attire, Service Works is a go to if you’re after comfortable, accessibly priced garments.
For its fleece jacket the micro-brand has kept things neutral and functional. A heavy pile fleece is rendered in a simple design, with two large front pockets for storing your knife roll, among other things.
The undisputed champion of fleece has to be Patagonia. The California-based brand has a legitimate claim to inventing the fabric, and has regularly applied it to its signature retro styled fleece jackets since its founding in the 1970s.
There is arguably no better choice on this list.
Whatever style of garment it chooses to make, Folk always applies its signature, pared back aesthetic. Its fleece jackets are typically minimal, and are often crafted in muted colourways, reflecting the brand’s simple designs.
A Day’s March
A Day’s March is one of those brands you could get dressed in head to toe. Everything compliments everything else, with tasteful detailing and exceptional attention to detail.
Its fleece jackets are suitably easy to wear, and make for an ideal combo with the brand’s signature denim jeans.
Although more widely appreciated for its wide leg pants and matching work jackets, Dickies isn’t shy of venturing into the world of fleece. Expect utilitarian style jackets with handy pockets and a sturdy, durable build quality.
With a focus on interesting fabrics coupled with a heritage design language, Universal Works is a staple choice for fleece outerwear. Expect a wide range of colours and subtle design details, which make its fleece jackets some of the more interesting ones on this list.
That other workwear specialist has continued to branch out from its roots, now producing a wide range of practical yet fashion forward menswear staples.
Indeed, Carhartt has dabbled in fleece jackets on more than one occasion, regularly producing some of the best quality to price ratio versions on this list.